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It happens gradually. So gradually, in fact, that Percy isn’t even really sure when he began to change. There’s never one specific moment when he suddenly has a moment of clarity and realizes this life isn’t for him anymore. It would have been nice if things were that precise and clear, as the reality was much more complicated and vague. He doesn’t like vague, doesn’t like theories or suspicions based on nothing more than feelings, and he doesn’t understand why it had to become a choice between his family and his job.

His family was right, of course, which he finds exceptionally annoying. They’re smug enough in their opinions and dismissal of everything he’s ever wanted to achieve. The idea of them actually having support for their rash declarations is maddening. Perhaps that’s why he has simply accepted their disgust with him and stayed away. It’s far easier to be distant from one’s family and lonely than it is to admit one was wrong and that carefully calculated decisions had, in fact, been faulty.

Besides, it’s not as if he didn’t attempt to patch things up, in his own way. He sent Ron an owl explaning the danger of his association with Potter, a concern borne out when he hears news of Ron being involved in the break-in at the Ministry that leads to the startling news of Voldemort’s return. Had Ron listened to him, he’d not have been injured and in such danger, though Percy imagines that ridiculous courage and blustery refusal to listen is further evidence of why Ron ended up in Gryffindor, even if he has no idea why he was sorted into such a house.

Months after that, he tried again and even brought the Minister of Magic for a visit, which was particularly pleasing until the twins reminded him how much he disliked them and Potter insulted the minister. He hasn’t been back to the Burrow since, nor has he spoken to any of them beyond the occasional polite greeting in the lift at work if his father is there. It’s far easier that way, really, and he fails to see how it should be all up to him to apologize for simply doing his job and making choices that just don’t happen to agree with their own.

Despite what his family wishes to believe, his loyalty is not to the minister, personally. His loyalty is to the Ministry of Magic and everything that it stands for. They don’t seem to understand how important government is for a successful society nor do they appreciate why rules are essential to prevent chaos and bedlam. If his parents had been more fond of rules, perhaps the twins wouldn’t have been so cruel and Charlie wouldn’t have run off to Romania at the first opportunity to have peace and quiet. Even Bill used work as an excuse to get away for years, though, of course, the prodigal son returned when things began to get worrying.

The Ministry of Magic is his life now. There’s nothing else to occupy his days, so he spends most of his time at work, trying to think of ways to get the proper attention and improve his chances for advancement. Fudge was incompetent, at best, while Scrimgeour lacks the finesse that the position of Minister requires, but Percy prefers the latter because one does always seem to know where one stands. He respects Scrimgeour, and he’s pleased with the changes made under the new minister. He is no longer seen as simply ‘Arthur Weasley’s son’, a title that rankles regardless of any affection that he might feel for the man, and manages to advance within the ranks of the Ministry on his own merits and achievements.

When he sees his family at Dumbledore’s funeral, an death that shocks and saddens him, he feels like an outsider even more than before. For once, he doesn’t have to ignore them because they exclude him quite well without his help. He has heard rumors about Bill’s injuries, an attack by a werewolf, though, fortunately not during the full moon, but seeing the scarring and his normally larger than life brother being supported just to stand is unexpected. He considers going over to Bill, if only to ask if he’s okay, but he can’t bring himself to do so. For all his family cares, he’s not there at all. Not even Ginny spares him more than a glance.

Instead of feeling sorry for himself, as such emotions are pointless and simply a waste of time that could be used elsewhere, he throws himself even more fully into work. With a concern about Bill and what it might mean for someone who is attacked by a non-feral werewolf, he researches magical law and devotes many late hours to drafting proposals giving more rights to victims of such attacks. The laws for magical creatures are archaic, at best, so it takes weeks before he can finally write a logical suggestion that would be beneficial to such victims. Scrimgeour would have considered it, he knows, but, by the time he’s finished, Scrimgeour is dead.

The new Minister of Magic is worse than Fudge, so the proposal remains hidden on Percy’s desk along with other numerous other suggestions that he feels would help improve the Ministry of Magic and perhaps propel them back into good favor with the people instead of being seen as an enemy by the very citizens they’re supposed to govern and protect. He hopes that they’ll get a Minister one day who actually wants to help instead of using the title for power or failing to be political enough to fulfill the position as needed.

Thicknesse isn’t going to be that Minister. Percy knows that within ten minutes of his first official meeting with the man. There’s something off about him, which makes him feel paranoid and ridiculous like the rest of his family. But he’s known Thicknesse for years, since he came to work for the Ministry, and this man isn’t the same. It worries him, not only because of his suspicions but because of the possibilities that might await their world if he’s right. With every passing day, things at the Ministry become worse and there are laws being passed and departments being formed that disgust him.

The very idea of Muggleborns stealing magic is ridiculous and illogical. The fact that people actually believe it, though, is even worse. How can anyone with half a brain fail to see what is happening? How can they look the other way and allow such atrocities to occur within the hallowed walls of the Ministry of Magic? They should be protecting their citizens, not torturing them or worse. People he knows are Death Eaters are now roaming the halls of the Ministry, removing any threats and sending traitors to Azkaban. The one place that has always felt safe for him no longer feels like home.

For once, he’s relieved to have a position that gives him access to information but isn’t powerful enough to draw attention. He’s not part of the new acts or departments, and he refuses to call this farce a ministry any longer. The real Ministry will be back, he has to believe, but he has to differentiate between the two, if only for his own peace of mind. He would never willingly work for this ministry, after all, yet he would support the real Ministry of Magic with everything he is or ever will be because it matters more than people acknowledge. That much is proven now when it has obviously fallen into the wrong hands, and it’s being used to attack and kill instead of protect and defend its citizens.

When he delivers paperwork one day and notices an open file with a list of names, he can’t explain why he makes a copy of the list. He doesn’t even think during those few tense moments as he hurriedly copies the parchment and secures it in his pocket and leaves the office as if he’s done nothing at all beyond dropping off files. It isn’t until he’s back in his office that he unfolds the paper and stares at the names. There are at least three dozen, not yet questioned or tortured, and they have no idea they’ve somehow ended up on a list of potential ‘magic thieves’. It’ll be another week before they do know, based on the date of their proposed interrogation.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a name of someone to help. He spends most of the next two nights making discreet inquiries and contacting people anonymously. Finally, he’s given the name of a pub in Hogsmeade that he walked past more times than he can count but never ventured inside, not even when Wood dared him during seventh year. The proprietor is blunt and rude, but that oddly makes Percy trust him during a time when trust is rare. He just hopes it’s not a mistake as he rubs his thumb over the parchment in his pocket before he Transfigures it into a galleon. He passes the galleon across the bar to pay for his pint, and he pulls his hood closer around his face, relieved that this is a pub where people don’t look at each other or ask questions. He’s just a man having a drink and talking to the barkeep.

After he gets home, he takes a shower and tells himself that he’s not crying, that it’s simply water, even as he shakes and slowly slides down to sit. It isn’t until the water’s freezing that he finally stands up and steps out of the shower, drying off automatically before he makes tea and reads a book on defense charms to refresh his memory. He doesn’t think anyone in the ministry is watching him, as he’s far too unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s best to stick to his routine as much as possible.

It’s two weeks before he hears the gossip about the missing people. Those who were on the list and couldn’t be found, run away before they had a chance to be ‘taken care of’, safe and hiding somewhere until this is all over. He’s proud of himself for not showing any sign of emotion or concncer about such things, even as he feels a sense of triumph inside. He helped save them, he did that, and he doesn’t even care if anyone ever knows because it’s not brave or courageous at all. No, bravery and courage would require not coming into work every day and turning a blind eye to the atrocities happening around him.

It’s the feeling of triumph that leads to him being more observant as he delivers files and gathers information for his reports. It’s a secret rebellion, never so daring as to draw specific attention, but it gives him hope in a time when he needs something to hold onto. His meetings at the Hog’s Head become more routine over subsequent months, and he passes along what he can, never wanting to know what’s done with the information or if it’s helpful or not. The less he knows, the better. Just in case.

He’s not a fool. He knows what he’s doing is dangerous, but he doesn’t really have any other choice. There’s no way he can pretend that everything is okay or feel proud about working for this ministry. There are times he wishes he were strong enough to do more, to try to make a huge difference instead of attempting to save people here and there as he can, but he’s just not that type. He’s had to gather every bit of courage he possesses just to get through every work day and take the chances that he does now. He still can’t look his father in the face, not because he doesn’t love him but for the odd fear that somehow his father will know he’s been passing along information or maybe it’s the fear that his father won’t realize he’s strong enough to make such choices and will just stare at him in disgust that keeps him from looking.

Regardless of his family or anyone else, he’s doing this for himself. He’s content if no one else ever finds out, which he knows would be shocking to those who think him the sort of person to use such acts for personal gain. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s never been a monster. An uptight git? Well, that’s something the twins might have actually got right, one of the only things, not that he’d ever acknowledge it. Still, he cringes at the idea of anyone finding out what little he’s done because all he can think about are the ones he hasn’t saved, the ones beyond his help, and the ones who will never again trust the true Ministry of Magic should it ever return to its former state.

It takes months for his confidence in the eventual return of the Ministry to begin to fade. He still clings to the hope, because, without it, what else does he have? But it's no longer something he firmly believes possible, not like he did when this all started. So much has happened, so many have been sent to Azkaban, killed or are listed as 'missing', which he fears is simply another word for dead in this current ministry. Even if they win, which he believes is possible regardless of the odds, there is so much to be done before the Ministry will become something worthy of respect and admiration, and he fears that few will rise to the task even if they earn the opportunity to rebuild.

The night he’s visited by an unfamiliar owl carrying an envelope that contains nothing except one single galleon, he finds himself faced with another choice. He has no idea why it’s been sent, but the rumors and gossip the last couple of weeks are enough to give him a few suspicions. It’s time, then. Someone, most likely his foolish youngest brother and those two daring friends of his, are standing up to fight, and others will be joining them, he knows, because it’s what everyone’s been waiting for, isn’t it? No one has dared to fight outright, to stand up and refuse to back down, but they’ve all been restlessly pacing back and forth and going through their daily lives with a nervous anticipation that this day would finally arrive.

Percy flinches slightly when he realizes he sounds like an emotional Weasley, trusting and believing in faith and other such nonsense. Still, he knows now that there are far worse things to be, even if admitting that means he has to acknowledge being wrong in the first place. God, he’s even looking forward to seeing Fred and George, which is clearly proof that he’s not in his right mind.

He laughs suddenly, startling the owl and himself. It feels good to laugh, even if he is bordering on hysteria. He sends the owl away and closes his fingers around the galleon that Dumbledore sent. With one last look at his tidy flat, just in case he doesn’t survive to see it again, he goes to the Floo and tosses in powder before he steps through to the Hog’s Head, finally ready to be the rash and foolish Gryffindor that the hat must have known he could eventually be.